tv Erin Burnett Out Front CNN October 3, 2012 2:00am-3:00am EDT
did. >> i'm not sure, but maybe they're overreacting just a bit. look, it's getting to the point where you can't even wheel one bloody deer carcass into a restaurant in a strip mall in kentucky in the middle of lunch without people freaking out and calling the health department. now, the people who own the restaurant say it was for their own personal use, that they >> "outfront" next, did washington reject repeated requests for increased security in benghazi? that's what happened, according to house republicans in a letter sent to secretary clinton today. one of the authors of the letter, representative darrell issa comes "outfront." plus, we're 24 hours away
from the first presidential debate. what are they going to say? we've got advisers to both of them. mitt and barack "outfront" tonight. and how a lot of money is riding on tomorrow's debate. a lot. let's go "outfront." good evening, everyone, i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, warning signs missed? that's what the republican head of the house oversight committee is charging tonight in the lead up to the u.s. ambassador's death in libya. he's calling for congress to return for a special hearing next week. it was a three-page letter and in it, darrell issa listed 13 security incidents and threats in libya in the past six months. including in june, a pro gadhafi facebook page mentioned his running habits. the posting directed a threat against stevens. issa says stevens stopped his morning runs for about a week
and then resumed them. in june, an ied was successfully placed at the u.s. consulate in benghazi, blowing a hole in the security perimeter gate, big enough for 40 people to go through. and in the weeks before the september 11th attacks, unarmed libyan guards working at the consulate were warned by family members to quit their jobs, because of, quote, rumors in the community of an impending attack. those are just a few of the 13 things that darrell issa listed. and he also included this major allegation. according to issa, multiple u.s. federal government officials have confirmed to the committee that prior to the september 11th attacks, the u.s. mission in libya made repeated requests for increased security in benghazi. the mission in libya, however, was denied these resources by officials in washington. the state department has responded to darrell issa's letter. here is spokeswoman victoria nuland. we are now working through all of the documents, all of the
information that is available to us in this department. we will see where we are on the 10th, but it is our intention to cooperate fully. >> all right. hillary clinton also responded to issa with a letter of her own. i have it here. she said she has established an accountability review board, which begins work this week to determine, and i want to quote her, i'll read here straight from the letter, wants to determine whether our security systems and procedures in benghazi were adequate. whether they were properly implemented. and any lessons that may be relevant to our work around the world. darrell issa joins me now. good to see you, sir, and appreciate your taking the time tonight. >> thank you. and thanks for covering this. >> let me start, if i may, sir, with the serious allegation that you've made. and this one -- as i just read the quote from your letter. that the u.s. mission in libya made repeated requests for increased security in benghazi, which were denied. where did you get that information? >> we got it from whistle
blowers and from confirmation from an interview with the former regional security officer, rso, who actually has over 66 separate incidents he recorded. we're not making any allegations. we're taking the facts that were brought to us, putting them in perspective, and asking the question, and getting, quite frankly, concerns from the individuals that themselves were responsible for security. and we're doing it not just for what is a done and sad situation in libya. but because with the arab spring going on around the arab world, the question is what are we doing in these other countries, will we be ready or could this happen again? >> do you know who denied the security that you're saying was repeatedly denied? >> well, we have a number of documents we have requested. secretary clinton has said she is going to cooperate and provide. those exchanges -- we want to make sure we look at all of the documents fully, rather than
just, if you will, whistle blower side of the story. and that's the nature of our committee, is we get a credible and verified allegation of a failure anywhere, and then we follow it up with full confirmation on both sides and that's what we expect to do between now and the 10th with the goal on the 10th to make sure this doesn't happen again in some other embassy or with some other foreign service personnel around the world. >> so it's interesting, because i know you're referencing an individual that you have information from saying that there were multiple security incidents. but this issue of repeated requests being denied i think is really at the heart -- from -- of what the letter says today. and the reason i wanted to ask you about the sources is because the state department is telling cnn tonight that security upgrades were actually made to the benghazi mission in part in response to some of the security incidents that you reference in your letter. so what are you talking about? it sounds like they got more security. >> well, first of all, we want to hear fully from the state department.
we want to understand how they evaluated the threat, why there were so few people. remember that we're not investigating per se the details the day that the ambassador and his party were killed. but let's understand, clearly he had almost no security on that day. clearly, this was in a consulate that had been breached earlier with a hole -- explosiveole that was described as a hole that 40 people could run through. so we already kind of know the awful end result. we know there wasn't enough security. that's not our investigation. our investigation is really about the signs and whether there's a process. and i think secretary clinton is saying she wants to do the same thing. and our hope is that between now and october 10th, we go a long way toward doing what we need to do, and expecting it will continue after. >> why do you think it has taken so long for the administration to come out and say this was a terrorist attack? obviously, they did so formally on friday, the intelligence committee.
>> well, i served on the select intelligence committee. it's filled with very conservative people who will often tell you that there may be a threat, and then when something happens, even if it fits all of their claims, they still want to double and triple check. so i give the administration as much as i can the benefit of the doubt for the slowness. again, though, whistle blowers, multiple confirmed whistle blowers have told us that they saw and reported what they saw as coming together of al qaeda and testing our missions and the british missions. and that's part of what we want to ask. are these warning signs ones that should have been heeded and are there similar ones in beirut or in aman or any other countries in the middle east. >> i'm curious, because you're calm here. the letter was -- like i said, there were some real smoking guns in that letter, allegations that were in there. and i'm curious, given how calm you are tonight, given how you
say you want to work with the secretary of state, why was it that elijah cummings, said you didn't ask him to sign the letter. you didn't do this in a bipartisan fashion? >> well, first of all, i expect that the hearing will be bipartisan. a number of the democratic members have already told me they'll be attending. i just got off of fast and furious. we're not a committee that we've seen much cooperation, even when there's real wrongdoing that we're running to ground. in this case, there wasn't time to meet our statutory requirements, our rule requirements. and quite frankly, we had a meeting with state in which the -- mr. cummings is representatives with there. we asked these questions. this letter is based on specific allegations from whistle blowers, confirmed by the regional security officer. and then put into a letter. so they're not allegations by us. they're actual statements by
individuals who were on the ground, both in tripoli and benghazi. and we are pursuing this on a bipartisan basis. to be honest, mr. cummings was helpful when i called him and asked for this interview with the regional security officer. and he helped make it happen the same day. so we do have a working relationship. we do not often sign on to letters. partially because that can take several days. >> and what about -- >> the letter is -- >> i just want to ask you, sorry, a final question about the timing of this. obviously, it's important to know who knew what, when, and if the ball was dropped. i don't know if there is any american, republican or democrat, who would disagree on that. but why ahead of the presidential election -- when you yourself said sometimes it takes time to get the final answers? >> erin, we sent a letter on september 20th that wouldn't responded to as of yesterday. subcommittee chairman chaffetz sent that letter. we started this right away. we continued pursuing it. but let's understand, men and women are serving us overseas
around the world. and if what happened in libya happens again because we waited until after election, 30 or 60 days, we haven't done our job. the secretary is working right now before the election. she has put together a panel to start looking at this. we're doing our job, too. and just because it's an election doesn't mean members of congress shouldn't work, including fact-finding and that's what we're doing. we're doing it as timely as we can. candidly, i would have preferred the september 20th letter would have been responded to sooner. >> fair enough. thank you very much, chairman issa. we appreciate your time tonight. so the question continues. were warning signs missed? well, the man who briefed the ambassador stevens is standing by. but first, was key intelligence about the attack in benghazi left out of a memo used to brief congress and the american people? intelligence like the involvement of al qaeda-linked groups which cnn has reported u.s. intelligence knew about within 24 hours? well, last night cnn reported that the white house chose to
leave out some intelligence from information shared with the public about the attack, the so-called talking points you've heard so much about. the talking points that ambassador susan rice used on sunday talk shows that emphasized an initial assessment that the attack began as a spontaneous protest, that it didn't appear to be planned. the white house's national security council spokesman tommy vietor tells cnn the white house was not involved in writing that memo. elise, i know you have been working fast and furious on this. what was the memo, and what did it say? >> erin, what senior administration officials are telling us, they are speaking from unclassified talking parts provided by the intelligence community based on preliminary intelligence assessments, which were used in the briefing members of congress and speaking about it publicly. now, we know, as you said, there was other information reporting from our sources saying there were indications of possible terror involvement. but national security council spokesman tommy vietor says they
didn't have that information and in a statement he says this was an intelligence community assessment based on the analysis of all of the available information. he goes on to say, there was no cherry picking. if it was used in the information you had at the time to make an informed judgment in good faith. and so erin, of course cherry picking means did the accusation -- did the administration use select intelligence from the talking points to make their case this was a spontaneous protest. white house said no. we did not have any information of this nature that these unclassified talking points did not include any of that information. >> and elise, do you know why the memo didn't make any mention of scenarios other than blaming a film protest, even when as we have reported from are sources here at cnn in the days after the attack, numerous administration officials believed the attack reflected a planned effort by extremists. >> the fact that this emphasizes it's unclassified begs the question as to whether there was a classified intelligence
assessment that might have had some of this information. we don't know. the white house says they didn't have that information. the white house saying they were provided with the best intelligence assessment they were able to share, based on the information they had on hand at that time. but, erin, this is one product of the intelligence community. and it doesn't seem to be all of the intelligence that the u.s. government had on the matter. whether that was shared with anybody else, we don't know. >> right. and finally, elise, why did it take intelligence, then, until last friday, 16 days after the attacks, before they changed the assessment. again, given that news outlets, including our own, reported that it was within 24 hours when several of these crucial things, including the involvement of al qaeda-linked groups was known to intelligence officials? >> well, i mean, that's another good question. i mean, this was in the initial days after the attack. it's clearly a picture -- that was evolving. people in the government fighting terrorism were continuing to gather information that suggested otherwise, and as daniel issa just said, sometimes people in the intelligence community don't know until for sure.
leon panetta was first to speak about this assessment, and he said it took a long time to come to the current belief that it was a planned terror attack, so it is a good question if why there was a rush to go with the spontaneous protest theory, why it took so long to change the line. a lot of people saying they were surprised that not only was this being used in the first place, but that the administration stuck with it. but, again, white house saying they did not have any information at the time, and they changed their assessment as soon as they were given this new information about al qaeda involvement. >> right. of course, which is very interesting. they changed it as soon as, but that was many days after news outlets had reported the exact same thing. so there are still many questions about what happened before and after the attack in libya and who knew what when. our next two guests are here to break it down. jeff porter joins us, he briefed ambassador stevens on the security situation in libya. he briefs government officials on al qaeda. and eli lake, with information
about what the u.s. knew. eli, you have been investigating whether susan rice, the u.n. ambassador, was, in addition to receiving the talking points, obviously now everyone knows what those included, right, including that it was not a preplanned attack, also had perhaps been briefed on classified information, which could have included different pieces of information, obviously. what have you found? >> well, the main thing to understand is that the key piece of intelligence that informed the unclassified assessment that this was a spontaneous reaction to a video protest was an intercept between a member of ansar al sharia, and al qaeda in north africa. so that fact that it comes from that conversation, there are lots of reasons as to why the intelligence community would not want that information to be out there.
one would compromise sources. the other is this there is a risk if you name groups like that, you could be creating a situation where you're getting false confirmation. someone may have seen a report to that effect, and you think it's an independent verification when it's just an echo effect. but that said, why would you then include one element of that piece of intelligence, which is that the ansar al sharia said we went ahead with the attack. without at least some reference to the fact it looked like an act of terrorism. why choose one piece over the other? and that question, i don't really have a strong answer to yet. and then, of course, what elise brought up, which is that there were lots of assessments of what was going on. some of it was classified. lots of things were classified. there were members of congress, there are staffers in congress, members of the administration who were getting more fuller and nuanced briefings with more information. but the question i don't know the answer to is whether susan rice got that information. when i asked this over the weekend of her main spokeswoman,
i was not able to get a response to that either. >> right. well, obviously, the question of who knew what when and who decided what was in, and not in these pieces of information, classified or unclassified, is still central to everything. jeff, you briefed the ambassador in may. at that time, we're looking at darrell issa with 13 incidents over the past 6 months, a damning list when you look at his letter. how did you tell ambassador stevens to evaluate the security situation. terrifying or not? >> not necessarily. because there was a range of security risks in libya. some of them directly targeted western interests. some of them didn't. some of them were domestic issues, the ntc, the government at the time, tribal issues, ethnic issues, economic issues, such as control of the black market economy. and so you really had to parse the different kinds of types of violence taking place. and islamists or jihadi -- >> so you're saying beware of something like this. this wasn't like at that time you knew that this kind of thing
could happen. >> no, there was the possibility that there were going to be jihadi actions in eastern libya. so, for example, africom, the agency, fbi, all tracking jihadi activity in eastern libya since at least 12 months ago. >> right. so they were aware. what about ambassador stevens? this story about the morning run, darrell issa included. threats against him from jihadi groups so he stopped his run for a week but then went back to it. was he too trusting? >> he was an honest broker. but i think, again, it's important to parse the kinds of violence. the threats against ambassador stevens on facebook were listed by a pro gadhafi group, which is not necessarily a jihadi group. so you've got different actors with different agendas. now, it's also important to note that the threats against ambassador stevens took place in tripoli, which is a different security environment than ben ghazi.
so you have to evaluate where you are, where the threats are coming from, and you have to distinguish between them. and this is something that the intelligence community has been trying to grapple with. >> thank you very much, jeff porter, we appreciate it. and eli lake, as well. and still "outfront," countdown to the first debate. members of both campaigns join us to tell us what the candidates will focus on tomorrow night. plus, you want to know who will win in november? there is a place that can deliver an answer. a colorado neighborhood with a near-perfect record of picking winners. so we're going to go there "outfront." and a seat coming loose on american airlines planes. more reports. why is this happening? bob, these projections... they're... optimistic. productivity up, costs down, time to market reduced... those are good things. upstairs, they will see fantasy. not fantasy... logistics. ups came in, analyzed our supply chain, inventory systems... ups? ups. not fantasy?
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look at those crucial voters. >> reporter: in the middle class neighborhood of green mountain, in the heart of jefferson county, residents of this one precinct have correctly predicted the outcome of all but one statewide and national election since 2000. they are the ultimate swing voters in a key swing district of a key swing state. candidates have to compete hard here to win votes. >> there is a sort of don't tread on me culture here. they don't really like government telling them what to do in terms of social or behavioral issues, yet they appreciate good government. >> reporter: how does the registration break down, look in this district? >> it's one-third, one-third, one-third, just a hair more republican than democratic. >> reporter: residents here are primarily retail workers, government employees, teachers and small business owners. average income, just under $53,000, close to the national average. she owns a local tee shop and voted for obama in 2008 but is now undecided. >> there is no one that can
speak for me solely across the spectrum on every issue. some republicans have great ideas, some independents have some great ideas and certainly some democrats do. and i think we as adults, with the right to vote in this country, need to make really good choices based on what resonates with us. and not necessarily across the party line. >> reporter: like so many members of the forgotten middle class, she and her fellow small business owners feel squeezed on all sides. kathleen curtis owns village roasters. >> the middle class is shrinking, isn't it? people are just plodding along, hoping social security will be there when they're ready to retire. >> reporter: kathleen says she hasn't been able to give herself a pay raise in three years. she has voted for democrats and republicans in the past. four years ago, she chose obama. but right now she is still undecided. >> at the time, i thought that he was the man for the job. and i would have to say after four years, i'm somewhat disappointed in the state of the economy. i need to know that there's going to be some relief there.
>> reporter: kathleen, wy and many other voters say they're looking to the debates for some answers. >> small business is the backbone of this country. we weren't bailed out. and so it's really understanding what's going to happen these next four years that's really important to me. >> reporter: voters here want specifics. they want to know how each candidate will help strengthen the middle class. the answers they get tomorrow night could sway the vote of green mountain. vote of jefferson county, the vote of colorado, and ultimately, the outcome of this election. >> and in that shot, be one cool caddy driving down the road. you said all these voters saying they want specifics. we want them too. did they tell you what specifics are going to help them make up their minds? >> they're looking for everything from specifics on how small businesses can be helped to specifics on something like fuel economy. they're really -- these are small business owners we talked to, and representative of the struggling middle class that feel squeezed on both sides for so long. what they are frustrated with is with the negative tone and the ads they're being besieged by.
they want tomorrow night the candidates to offer specific solutions looking forward. how are you going to improve their quality of life. >> it sounds like they don't want debates over you're going to raise taxes, you're not, 47% comments said at fund raisers. they want specific actionable items. >> the t-shop owner we spoke to, so frustrated about obamacare. she wanted new proposals put on the table. and it is heartening. these are folks who are undecided because they're taking their time to make up their mind and they're doing it as educated voters. >> john avlon, thank you very much. next, what should we expect president obama and mitt romney to say tomorrow night? are they going to take the advice of those swinging voters? well, officials from both campaigns, "outfront." plus, a lot riding on the debates and we're not talking about courting voters. we're talking about money. i mean incredible amounts of money. we'll be back. now, that's what i call a test drive.
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the presidential election next month. judge robert simpson issued a preliminary injunction saying he wasn't convinced some voters wouldn't be disenfranchised by requiring them to show a photo i.d. the injunction is temporary and the law could be enforced starting next year. the ruling is expected to be appealed. a border patrol agent was shot and killed in arizona today. 30-year-old nicholas ivy and another agent came under fire after responding to a sensor that went off near the border. it was according to customs and border protection. ivy was killed in the firefight. the other agent is at a local hospital. his injuries are not thought to be life-threatening, but ivy is the third border patrol agent killed in the line of duty this year. the whereabouts of jimmy hoffa are going to remain a mystery, at least for now. roseville, michigan police say two soil samples don't show evidence of human remains. we've been telling you about this search prompted by a credible tipster who claimed a body was buried there around the time hoffa disappeared. he was the former teamsters boss who went missing in 1975 and declared dead seven years later.
it's been 425 days since the country lost its top credit rating. september sales were up, more than expected, up 13%. second-biggest purchase most americans make, everyone, is a car after their home. so that's a real sign of people feeling confident. and now our third story "outfront." debate countdown, with 24 hours to go, both president obama and mitt romney are prepping for their wednesday night face-off in the ring. romney took a break with his debate partner, senator rob portman, to get lunch at a chipotle in denver today. chipotle is pretty good. while obama stepped out of debate camp in nevada to visit the hoover dam. that's neat too. with as many as 60 million americans expected to watch, both camps keep expectations low. it's a big game to say i'm going to do worse than you. romney senior adviser barbara comstock is in denver and jen psaki, press secretary for the obama campaign is in las vegas with the president. good to see both of you. nice big smiles.
i love this optimism. we're all excited about tomorrow. barbara, let me start with you. there was something politico's chief political columnist wrote today that sort of made me smile and i wanted to get your reaction. roger simons wrote, there are three things mitt romney must do to win the presidential debate on wednesday. unfortunately, nobody knows what they are. do you know what they are? >> well, i think it's going to be talking to the american people about how the middle class has been buried under the higher taxes, the higher regulations and the -- just the job-killing policies for the past four years and how mitt romney can talk straight to the american people about how he has a plan to create jobs, specific things, like in my home state of virginia, he's going to allow us to have exploration off shore with energy so we can have good high-paying jobs. that's something supported by democrat senators like mark warner and jim webb in my home state of virginia and something this president has stopped. we're also going to get rid of those job-killing regulations
that killed 1,200 jobs in the coal fields of virginia and west virginia and elsewhere. and we're also going to cut taxes on small businesses. cut taxes across the board of a -- across the board tax cut instead of the promise that barack obama is going to increase taxes across the board of the biggest tax increase in history on january 1st. and mitt romney understands that you have to have small business to grow these jobs. and that's the way we're going to invest in small businesses. take the job-killing obamacare regulations that will crush small businesses, but then give -- replace it with good policies that allow businesses to buy health insurance with what they need, buy it across state lines, have preexisting conditions covered. but the kind of policies that they won't be bankrupt and fined. and 20 million people are expected by this -- by the administration's own calculations, 20 million people -- i guess it was cbo said it would lose their coverage under obama care and that's not going to work for my
state of virginia. >> i have to say, i hope he has your ability to go without taking a breath and have things that make sense. jim, let me ask, barbara talked about mitt romney wants to talk about his tax plan. i'm sure that the president wants to talk about mitt romney's tax plan too. specifically that promise to cut taxes for everybody in a revenue-neutral way. >> well, look. i think the american people would love to hear mitt romney talk about his tax plan and share more details. because we saw in the "new york times" this morning -- well, this is a little unrelated but i still want to touch on it. that mitt romney has benefited financially from his own investments in the time he had at bain. that's something he has been telling the american people something very different on. and when it comes to his own tax plan, you know, he hasn't provided any specifics. the arithmetic just doesn't add up. paul ryan had the opportunity to speak to it this weekend and said he didn't have time to do that. so there are a lot of questions out there. we would love to know how he's going to pay for $5 trillion tax plan for millionaires and billionaires and not leave the
burden on the middle class. >> barbara, let me ask that question specifically. is there a plan for how mitt romney will respond to that question? that, you know, the tax policy center, it's a nonpartisan group, people served in both democrat and republican administrations, has concluded -- and there do appear to be things that can change. but has concluded to have a revenue-neutral tax plan, you would have to raise some taxes on the middle class. is mitt romney going to get specific on that or say it doesn't have to be revenue-neutral, or how specific will he get? >> that's a totally discredited study. and we are cutting taxes on all people. in fact, it's barack obama's policies which actually we don't know what they are, and jen just didn't tell you. i mean, we have talked about key stone pipeline on day one. we're going to create jobs. they're going to have 12 million jobs we're going to create. and then we're going to lower the taxes on small businesses, because we know that's where the job growth comes from, is the small businesses. and the small business tax increases that barack obama promises, because those taxes that he wants put in place,
two-thirds of them hit small businesses. and that will kill 700,000 more jobs. and women are the ones who are starting up businesses at a bigger rate. minorities are. you know, in my community, i have a large asian population, all that have small businesses. and these are the people who are going to be taxed. when they need that money for their mortgages, for their kids' education, they don't want to send to to washington, they want to keep that money in virginia to create the next job, take care of their kids and to grow the economy. and that's what we have done in virginia. that's why we're number one for jobs and we want a partner in washington who isn't fighting us on jobs. we want a partner who is working with us on jobs. >> let me just interject quickly, and you guys have to keep -- keep my word here, five seconds each. do you coach your candidate on, hay, don't put your nose in the air, put your hands in your pockets, don't do those things that make you seem arrogant or whatever it might be. do you tell your guy to do that, both of you, anything like that? yes? >> look at you --
>> go ahead, jen. >> joe biden -- just don't be joe biden and try and crush the middle class. the middle class has gotten buried. >> oh, no, no, no. i wanted a direct answer. >> we agree with joe biden and the middle class has gotten buried and my candidate is going to tell you -- >> okay. i'm going leave it there. it is your job to try to make your case. you tried to do it. but i will say, i hope there is some advice to the candidates about, you know, the nose in the air thing, kind of snooty thing that people can do. anyway. okay. our fourth story out. the candidates hoping to bring their a game tomorrow night. can they sway enough voters to swing the election? we checked in with our independent political strike team and the result, 73% yes, 27% no. so they do think that these debates can sway enough people to swing the election. that's a really crucial thing to say, everybody, because we're hearing that only 5, 6% of americans are undecided. so you might think mathematically there aren't enough undecided people to swing the election, but that's not the verdict of our team. ken vogel is one member who answered no the question, but he does say these debates can be
crucial for another key reason and he's the chief investigative reporter for politico. good to see you, ken. always fun to have you on. this is the money game, right? whoever gets the higher score tomorrow, there's going to be a big, big decision. >> yeah, that's right. and it's something where if you look back at history, gallup crunched the numbers over every presidential election between 1960 and 2004. there were only two times where the debates were seen as pivotal in affecting the outcome. that was 1960, where the jfk-richard nixon debates where richard nixon appeared sweaty and uncomfortable and then 2000 where al gore was seen as sighing and sort of dismissive of then texas governor george bush. so when you asked jen and barbara whether they were giving their candidates advice on things that are aesthetic, they should be. >> that's what we all remember, right, do you wear the gray suit on black and white tv, nixon. let me ask this, because you've
done a lot of work on this. super pacs and the candidates are competing for money, which a lot of people might not realize. but the campaign can cover whatever it wants with the money, the super pac not linked to the campaign at all so not ideal for the campaign. the romney campaign, $86 million raised. the pro romney super pac, $41 million. and american crossroads, affiliate with karl rove, $58.7 million. so you can add that up and get a big number or say if karl rove doesn't like how mitt romney does tomorrow night, he could give a lot of that $60 million, the biggest chunk of change, to, i don't know, senate candidates, congressional candidates, and not romney. >> that's right, erin. there are a lot of republicans and democrats who are very closely watching what these outside groups -- and it's not just the super pacs we have the money for and the finances. but also these 5014 c nonprofit groups raising a ton more money, the karl rove gps, the koch brothers, americans for prosperity. and there is a feeling that if mitt romney starts to look like
he can't win, that they will pull the plug on him, and start diverting the money that they otherwise would have spent on his campaign, on congressional campaigns, and that really underscores the difference between these sort of post citizens united elections where the power and the determination of viability is really being made by these outside groups versus before where you had the parties being able to decide, hey, we think this candidate has a chance. and in 1996, for instance, we saw the parties decide that bob dole wasn't going to beat president clinton. so it diverted the money from dole to the congressional candidates. and it kept the majority, the gop did, in congress. now we have just a few people, both the billionaire donors and the operatives of those outside groups making those kinds of pivotal decisions. >> all right. thanks very much, appreciate it. still to come, we have learned of six new instances of seats coming loose on american airlines' planes. i mean, how in the world is this happening?
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now our fifth story "outfront," an airline in crisis. tonight we are learning there have been six instances where american airlines' jets have had loose seats in the cabin. four were discovered during inspections, two occurred in the air, and had to be diverted. and actually had to do unexpected landings at jfk in new york. as you can imagine, it would be a terrifying experience for passengers who had their seat detach from the floor in mid flight. here's the pilot from saturday's incident. >> passenger seats, rows 12d, e and f came loose from the floor. we don't want that flying around and hurting the passengers. >> flying around. "outfront" tonight, mary skeefo former director of the transportation department. good to see you. thank you for taking the time. i'm confused how this can be happening. american airlines is operating in bankruptcy and is there a lot of labor issues and challenges going on. so the airline says there is a problem with how the seats were secured to the floor. the workers' union is blaming it
on outside contractors. so how concerned should passengers be that an airline in bankruptcy is outsourcing maintenance, things like seats, and not doing it themselves? >> well, it's of concern, because american has had a number of years of problems with maintenance. in 2010, the inspector general found that american was having increasing maintenance issues and deferring maintenance, wasn't doing properly. last year, american was fined $162 million for maintenance violations. and now a series of things related to smoke in the cockpit, issues on the ground, and these seats. the seats are important, because they come on an old airplane. they had moved the seats, changed the attaching mechanism. and so it's just one in a long line of things that have been related to american maintenance. and that's why they're under special watch by the faa for the maintenance. >> is the faa doing its job, though, when this actually happens in mid air?
i know they're supposed to step up. are they dropping the ball? >> well, they are to a certain degree. they have put them under a special watch. but usually what happens on carriers, they're supervised by the inspectors in their own area, in the dallas area, where they call it certificate management or maintenance. and what they could do, faa could step up the next level, and they could actually have a national team come out and do -- they used to call them nasips, but special investigation of american. and it's probably something that they should be doing, because often airlines are put under special watches when they're in bankruptcy. but here there's been a whole series of maintenance issues. >> would you fly -- you were the former inspector general. would you fly a bankrupt airline? if you could avoid it? >> well, you know, in this country, you often can't avoid flying bankrupt carriers. there have been times in our history when almost all of them were in bankruptcy. but right now, because of the problems with maintenance, delays and cancellations, no. i think we need to give american time to heal.
that's not to say they can't. other carriers have gone through this. usair went through it in the early '90s and emerged stronger. some carriers like eastern went through this, and won -- >> so you would fly them? >> they didn't make it through. i would not. i'm going to let them have time to fix their problems. and i hope they do. i think that they can, if they really do a top-down scrub. >> thank you very much, ma'am. i appreciate your time. the former inspector general said she wouldn't be flying american airlines right now. "outfront" next, a woman charged with a crime after she says police raped her. we're back with tonight's ♪
we're back with tonight's outer circle where we reach out to our sources around the world. we begin in tunisia, where protesters have taken to the streets in support of a woman who was charged with public indecency after she was allegedly raped by police officers. the officers claim they found her in a quote, immoral position. they made that claim after she filed a claim against them. i asked atika shubert if those charges will hold up. >> well, it's really up to the judge. today is only the first of many hearings to determine whether or not this woman will have to face this charge of public indecency. what's so incredible about the story is the sequence of events. this woman says she and her
fiance were stomped by three policemen, two of them put her in a police car and then she says they drove around the sea with each policeman taking turns raping her for more than an hour. the third policeman stayed behind with the fiance to extort about $200 from him, or the policeman threatened to charge them with adultery. now, the only time this charge of public indecency came up is when she and heriance decided a short while later to complain to the police, and that, when they entered the police station, is when suddenly the police turned around to tell them that they instead had been charged, so that sequence of events is when hundreds of protesters were out on the streets of tunis today. >> that is a gruesome story. it's 35 days until the election but why we might need to wait 83 days to christmas to find out if our economy is actually on the mend. [ male announcer ] your mouth is cleanest after the dentist.
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"outfront" and i love christmas. i already have some of my gifts bought. i put them aside in one place so i don't lose them and forget about them. even though we're still 29 days away from halloween, christmas has stuck its bright little red nose into our business. ornaments, stockings, artificial trees are available for sale online. you get your catalogs, they have halloween in the front and now they have the christmas section. some retailers have even started setting up the first of the displays in stores. it's all part of the retail industry's plan to squeeze as much holiday spirit and money out of the year. it's understandable. most retailers actually rely on the last two months of the year for 40% of their annual sales. which brings us to tonight's number. 4.1%. according to the national retail federation, that is how much more americans are going to spend on christmas gifts this year, and it's a big number because it's higher than the average of 3.5% over the past ten years. it continues a trend that began after holiday sales plunged during the financial crisis but before you get so excited about all this, consider tha